Just the gist: Big data and pandemics in seven key points

EMBL © Adobe Stock; Rayne Zaayman-Gallant/EMBL

EMBL Science and Society panel examines opportunities and limitations for big data in addressing present and future pandemic.

The use of data has played a central role in the COVID-19 pandemic, but it should come as no surprise that researchers are already looking at ways to improve data acquisition, management, and access. EMBL’s most recent Science and Society seminar, ‘Harnessing Big Data to Monitor and Tackle Pandemics’, featured a panel of three speakers who shared their experiences and conclusions about these topics.

Ilaria Capua, Director of the One Health Center of Excellence at the University of Florida, explained why the concept of ‘circular health’ could transform what we know about pandemics and how we address them. Enrico Bucci, Director of the System Biology programmes at Temple University in Philadelphia, discussed the limitations of big data and the idea of long-term pandemic forecasting. And Rolf Apweiler, Director of EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and Senior Scientist, focused on the ways in which big data is most suited to answering specific questions about the pandemic. Ewan Birney, EMBL Deputy Director General and Director of EMBL-EBI, moderated the discussion and took questions from the audience.

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